What goes on inside your nose affects the way you feel. When there’s something wrong with the interior structure of the nose, it can be difficult to take a deep breath. In some cases, nasal problems can interfere with your ability to smell or taste or can affect the appearance of your nose.
Whether you have an issue with your nose or are just curious about how everything works, let’s learn more about the various structures that are located inside the nose.
Sometimes known as the nares, the nostrils are the openings to the nose, inhaling and exhaling air. Your nostrils are divided by a wall of cartilage called the septum.
The word septum comes from a Latin word that means “to divide.” In the nose, the septum splits your left and right nasal cavities. The septum consists of bone and cartilage that’s covered in soft mucous membranes.
Although it might not seem like it, the septum actually plays a pretty important role when it comes to regulating air flow. It helps direct the air you breathe in through the nose and eventually down to the lungs. Without the septum, the air might not flow properly through the nose.
As with other parts of the body, a few things can go wrong with the septum. One very common problem is a deviated septum, meaning that it leans to one side or the other. Many people have some amount of deviation in their septum, but the leaning isn’t severe enough to cause issues.
In cases when the septum leans too far over to one side or another, it can interfere with breathing. A severely deviated septum can block one half of the nasal passage, making it difficult to take a deep breath and causing discomfort in the nose.
If a person does have a severely deviated septum, a surgery called septoplasty can correct it. During a septoplasty, a surgeon will adjust the septum, either by repositioning it or changing its size.
If the septum helps to direct the air your breath to the right place, the turbinates help to prepare it so that breathing is a safer and more pleasant experience for you.
People typically have three turbinates, or long, tissue-covered bones, on the interior sides of the nose. It’s likely that the turbinates help to add moisture to the air you breathe in and that they help to clean it, removing debris and dust before the air makes its way down to your lungs.
Like the septum, turbinates can cause difficulty breathing. Some people have turbinates that are enlarged or swollen because of allergies or an ongoing cold. If the enlargement is chronic and interferes with a person’s daily life, a procedure known as turbinate reduction might be needed.
A turbinate reduction can be performed as a surgical procedure or by using lasers to change the size of the turbinates.
Technically speaking, the sinuses aren’t in the nose. They are openings in the skull and are located behind the nose. You can divide your sinuses into four groups, based on their location: maxillary, ethmoid, frontal, and sphenoid. The sphenoid sinuses are just behind the nose, the maxillary sinuses are in the cheeks, the ethmoid sinuses are between the eyes and the frontal sinuses are in the forehead.
Each of the sinuses is lined with a mucous membrane. When they are functioning as they are meant to, the sinuses should be empty. When you have a sinus infection, the cavities can fill up with mucus, causing you discomfort. Blocked sinuses are more prone to infection and inflammation and can contribute to cases of chronic sinusitis.
If you do have ongoing sinus infections, there are a few options for treatment. Your doctor might recommend treating the underlying cause of the infection, such as any allergies you might have. In severe cases, sinus surgery to fix any blockages or issues in the cavities might be the best option.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients with breathing problems in the Hudson Valley. A board-certified facial plastic surgeon and board-certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as the functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about the interior of your nose and your options for correcting ongoing sinus and breathing problems, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.